Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2015/2016
Name: Puck Näsman Norell
Email address:


Why exchange? 

There are a lot of different reasons for why students want to go abroad. Maybe they feel like there is so much more to education than just being stuck at their home university. Maybe they want to experience the culture in another exotic country, or maybe they just want to escape from reality but still continue with their studies. I guess I was one big mix of all that at the same time really. I really like KI, but I felt that in order to actually mature to the professional researcher that I have in mind to become, I have to be able to fit in in an intenationally diverse environment. I would say that my class is ideal in that sense since we are so diverse, although there is a difference actually going to a country with a different culture. Biomedical students are offered to go to Leiden in their second year, which I thought was a great opportunity which would be sad to miss. At that time, I was badly educated in the Dutch culture, and naive as I was I thought that it would not be that different. Because I mean, what could be so different from the Swedish culture.......??

Information is important 

I have always been the confused student chasing the others after information, but I feel that the directives that we got from KI were good enough to manage on my own. Of course, all of us going from KI to Leiden sat down together at some points looking through each others applications, which I think is a great way of doing it. Malin Ahlén was a real rock when you were somewhat confused about information. We did not receive any information from Leiden University before the exchange, which was a little weird, a part from some forms to fill in, in order to receive a badge upon arrival. 

What do you have to keep in mind? 

I think that the most important part in the process is to check your email regularly, and actually to fill in all forms and applications as soon as you get them. Otherwise, you always forget that one little thing that was kind of very important and stuff do not turn out as well as you would have wanted them to. So for your own good, check email and fill in as soon as possible! Remember to save your registration number when you receive it, since you will need it when writing your own report, because it is easy to lose it in all the other emails you will receive.

How did the actual application procedure look like? 

So what do you actually have to do in order to go on the exhange? First of all, you need to pass all your courses up to the date that you are going. When you've managed that, you have a long list of things that need to be done, let me make a list for you!

- Motivational letter - why do you want to go?

- CV - curriculum vitae, details what you have done, research maybe? have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities? 

- Grades from all courses

- Photo of yourself

- Written and submitted application form. CHECK THE DATE, do NOT send in too late!

Keep in mind that this is only for the acceptance from KI, when yu have been accepted, you have to go through this process again for the university in Leiden, however, you have to submit different things this time: 

-  Nomination form

- Transcripts

- Passport page, as well as a picture of your KI card

Done, and accepted? Good, then continue with this!

When accepted, you have to continue with setting up your accounts and get your badges from the university. You will get emails about everything, but it will be these things to keep in mind to get: 
- Apply for LUMC badge, in order to be able to move around freely in the hospital (where you are entitled to be)
- Apply for Leiden University card (to be able to study in the library for example, which is great)
- Receive your student number, in order to have access to mail, blackboard etc
- Set up blackboard, which is the pingpong of Leiden. 
- Set up uSis, the ladok of Leiden
- Set up uMail, which is the mail, similar to Keep in mind to log in there regularly, otherwise you'll miss things, like when you are supposed to fill in evaluation forms about the courses (GOES)

Are you done with all this? Good, let's go to Leiden!


Arrival and registration

Arriving in Leiden

I arrived a couple of days before the start of the semester, around 4 days if I remember it correctly. I think it is good to come around one week in advance to actually settle in, and start to explore the area.

 When I arrived, I was pretty lost. My landlady didn't answer her phone and I woud have felt like the lonliest person in the world if I didn't travel together with my classmate Mati. There was an introduction week called OWL week which we two couln't attend due to a summer course we were taking at KI, but if I had the opportunity, I would certainly have gone to OWL week. The people that went said it was the most amazing experience and that you actually could meet all the internationals studying at the university. However, I do not think that my connection with the other international students was bad just because I did not share the same first impression or experience in Leiden. If you can attend OWL week, do so but you do not have to feel too bad about not going! OWL week was the closest thing to introduction that the university offered, so I might have missed some information. I did not get a tour in the university at all, or any information about for example how to buy food in the cafeteria or how many microwaves that the hostipal can offer. All of that I learned by doing. 

You can always ask

There are people that you can ask if you want advice. The MFLS works for students at the university, and the biomedical programme has its own representative. The representatives are really helpful if you have any questions about the university, or just Leiden in general. If you have questions connected to Sweden, you should email your co-ordinator. 

What to do that is important 

Like previously mentioned, you have applied for a Leiden University card, as well as a LUMC badge. To get the Leiden University card, you have to go to PLEXUS and take a picture in order to get it. Take the picture, and the card will be done after a couple of days to be picked up at the same place in the reception. As goes for the LUMC badge, you have to go to the information/reception desk on floor 2 close to the cantine in the LUMC to book a time when you can take a picture and receive your card. You have to leae a 15 euro deposit for the card! A registration card will be received my mail.

Your bike will be your best friend

When arriving to Leiden, you should look for a bike. The best way of doing that would be to go to second hand stored in the center, or just look at Facebook pages, such as Leiden Housing. There are always people selling their bikes there! Make sure to be able to see the bike before you buy it, and see so that the wheels, tired and everything is good. My bike cost 40 euros, and it was really good, so it does not have to cost 90 euros, which people are selling their bikes for!


Where did I get my money from? 

So where did I get money from to be able to finance my stay in Leiden? First of all I have to say that I never had to take a student loan, but I think that that can differ from person to person. You do get money from CSN, which you have to apply for yourself. Keep in mind that you have to apply for abroad studies, In order to do that, you have to contact your co-ordinator that can give you a confirmation of your studies abroad, which you can ad as an attachment to the CSN application. After that you should be fine! 

For the Erasmus Plus money, you have to fill in a form, as well as do a language assessment course, which you get on your email. You get around 10 000 from the Erasmus stipend, and use them wisely! 

So I managed on my savings, as well on the CSN and the stipend that we received. 

Living la vida loca?
I wasn't living la vida too crazy when I was in Leiden, but it still cost a lot. The most expensive part was all the weekend trips that me and my friends did. You can keep your costs at a very limited amount, but then again, you DO want to have fun as well don't you? 

Food is cheap

What I did to keep my costs down was to try to eat all food that I bought at the super market. I bought relatively healthy and cheap food at Dirck, a super market that was situated close to one of the windmills at Langegracht 3

The food in the supermarkets was super cheap compared to the prices in Sweden, which might be a trap as well. Since you think that the food is "sooo cheap", you end up with buying the whole store but then the food just gets bad in your fridge!

A good way of getting even cheaper prices is to get a bonus card at for example Albert Heijn, which will give you a discount on certain products. I was using my Albert Heijn bonus card every time when shopping there. Just go to the information in the store and you will receive one that will be operative as soon as you activate it on their website. The procedure was in Dutch, but it was easy to understand the different steps, at least for me. Otherwise, use google translate! 

When I didn't feel too keen on cooking and super tired, I ordered takeaway with some friends. There is a super good website you can order food from, which shows the restaurants nearby that you could order from. It doesn't take too much time for them to deliver either! One thing that you will notice when biking around in Leiden is all the home delivery people driving around. The do love their home delivery!

Home delivery food:
Link to Dirck:
Link to Albert Heijn:

Books, books, books

The student literature was kind of expensive, and you can only buy it on specific days during one hour at the university. Do not forget that you need many of the books, and you should definitely buy them if the exam is going to be an open book exam. 

Other expenses

There was not that much that you had to pay for when being a student really. You could pay for an ISN LEIDEN membership which gave you access to the Einstein pub on Wednesdays for the international students, as well as cheaper prices for their international dinners and parties. 

There is no need to pay for vaccinations, since you can get some for free at the university hospital. The vaccinations that you can get are the ones that you can get at KI as well, depending on what programme you are in. There was no need for me to apply for a visa either, although I know that people from outside of Europe has to do that. However, I do not know how that really works. Something that I do know is that if you think that you are a person that requires a visa, CHECK UP INFORMATION BEFORE THE SUMMER BREAK. During the summer, the people that are dealing with visa applications might not work or do not want to do anything about it. If you feel positive abotu going to Leiden, try to apply for a visa as soon as possible if you will need one. As I mentioned, I didn't have to, but if you feel unsure, contact your international coordinator as well!


Lodger in Leiden

I lodged in a house belonging to a woman working at the university. I had my own room with limited cooking possibilities, which means that I did not have an oven (which was kind of sad when the cravings for nachos covered in a thick layer of cheese was real). It was not that expensive, it cost 420 euros and it was actually pretty close to the university, even thou people always moaned and looked sad when I said I live in Oegstgeest. "Oh, that must be really annoying", "you must bike very far every day poor you!". In fact, I seldom came late to a lecture (as far as I remember, might have chosen to forget that matter). Oegstgeest was the place where all the cool kids were hanging out while their parents were sleeping. They were biking around during the nights with their squad music and squad bikes. Linnéa and I took after that so everytime we went somewhere we put on the dopest songs we could find on my spotify and felt like nothing could ever touch us. We were the real bike crü of Oestgeest. 

But how to find housing in Leiden?

The headline says it all really. If you have Facebook, just search for Housing in Leiden and you'll find the best way of finding anywhere to live, bike, rice cooker or free sushi. This page has literally everything you need and stuff that you just cannot refuse. People are uploading ads every day with prices raging from very good to super expensive. Sometimes they specify which gender that can apply for the housing and sometimes you're free to just send a PM and they will contact you to skype or just chat some on facebook. It is a super chill way of finding housing!

What was nice with living in a house?

The nice thing with living in a house is that the houses are often situated in the nicer and calmer areas, so I did not have to be bothered with the squads too often. It would have been nice living in the city, but looking back, I am really happy that I did not live in the centre. I often heard complaints from some friends saying that the streets were too lound and busy, which of course was very annoying when trying to sleep. So my tip would be DO LOOK OUTSIDE THE CENTRE OF LEIDEN (preferably Oegstgeest). It only took around 10 minutes for me and Linnéa to bike, which I think is pretty fair!

Does my walled have to cry?

I think that the housing costs varied lots. There was a difference of 200 euros between two of my friends, living around 10 metres from each other. That is a lot of money, so do not make the mistake of picking something too expensive just because you are scared that you will not find something better. But do start searching for a place IN TIME so you don't end up on the street. That has happened.  

Studies in general

Differences between the Netherlands and Sweden

There are clear differences between the Dutch way and the Swedish way of learning. I was actually "warned" before going from people that have or are studying in the Netherlands. The reason for this is because of the tempo of information given, as well as the structure of lectures and division between self studies and lectures. 
The striking difference is that they mostly have self study time than actual lectures. As a student from KI having lectures from 9.00 in the morning to 17.00 in the afternoon, I was not prepared to have one lecture per day that we had in some courses. Rest of the day, you were meant to read the course literature that was provided in the course information, which personally was hard for me. 

Lecturers are different 

The teachers were looked upon differently in the Netherlands. When the Dutch students adressed a teacher, they started by saying "Sir" or the equivalent to female lecturers. The problem that I had sometimes was that I could really feel that we students were looked down upon by some teachers. Some teachers really had the need of showing us that they are much higher in rank than us. Sometimes, the teachers could be rude to students asking questions, which only results in students not wanting to ask questions. The teachers were using some kind of scaring technique to get us to study, and said things like "if you have not learned this, do not even be bothered to think that you will be able to understand this". 

Now, it might sound much worse than it actually was, but the fact is that the teachers are very different from what we are used to here in Sweden. There were some teachers that did not differ students from teachers, and those were the most pedagogical ones that actually had a positive impact on us students. You really felt that you wanted to learn more, and gain some knowledge in the subject because you wanted to, not because you had to in order to pass the exam. 

Exams can be very different and short

I think I had three big exams and two smaller ones, and almost no one looked the same. First, I had an open book exam, where you could bring both your literature and your module book (a small book with questions for each seminar. In the books, you could write things and marked the pages with small post-its. The exam is not easier just because you can bring materials to the exam, so do not get a false feeling of security because of this. You still need to learn a lot for the exam, and the best thing to do is to remember where in the book you can find some particular pictures and texts. The exam is only 3 hours, so there will not be much time reading through the appendix to look for certain keywords.  What was most striking with the exams in Leiden was that they are so short. Three hours is the maximum time for an exam if you don't have prolonged writing time.

At KI, the longest we had was 6 hours, which gives you time to reflect and look through your answers. Personally, I think it is very good to have 6 hour exams, since you do have time to take it easy. During my open book exam in immunology, I was stressing so much I almost felt like "I can't be bothered with this, I just want to go home". What I did when I felt that way was just to choose another question to work with. 

Study environment was good

I think that the overall study environment was good. You could ask anyone about anything and most of the students were very helpful. The major problem that came with the way how the program is formed is that most of the students went home when the lectures had ended. The Dutch students rarely sat at the university during the self studies, which made it hard to study or socialise with them after class. Some teachers were very friendly and could walk up to you after class to have a chat with you about life in general.

However, the study environment was sadly good thanks to the internationals

the Dutch people were friendly, don't get me wrong, but they just don't seem to want to speak English....

JVT was the link between the students and teachers

To give the courses feedback, and so the teachers could know what the students thought about the course, the JVT, the year representatives, met every week to talk about the ongoing course, as well as things that could be done for the class. After each course, a GOES evaluation was sent out to the students, that could be filled in. It was an evaluation form of the course, where compliments and complaints could be written. Do fill in the GOES what will be sent to your uMail!! I was the international student representative, which meant that I tried to tell the teachers that the international students thought about the courses, as well as the administration and management. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 3 at KI
Here, I will tell you in detail the different courses that we had!
Remember that international students to have courses in parallel, so the courses listed will not come after each other, many of them are parallel!

Immunology, BS

First of all, we had Immunology, which is kind of self descriptive. It handled the immune system, as well as different diseases that are linked with a deficient immune system. Every week, we had seminars as well as introductory lectures on different topics. These topics could be for example vaccines, the role of t cells or the role of b cells. The module book will work as your guide through the course, which is a compendium with a short introduction about the subject, as well as questions that will be handled at the seminars. The seminars are run by extremely talented researchers and teachers, which really know the themes that are taught. The seminars are really important and you should not skip going on any of them. Do the questions before coming to the seminar, so you can ask additional questions about the subject. In addition to the questions, you will receive case studies that will be read during the seminar, which really mad you able to apply a certain deficiency to a certain patient. 

The course is almost completely theoretical, and you will not have any labs. The only thing close to a lab is when looking at tissue slides on the computer. You should really buy the course book sine the exam is an open book exam. This means that you get to have the book with you at the exam, and search for info in it. Learn where you can find the different sections by heart, because it does take time searching in the index. You should NOT rely on the book, since you only have 3 hours for an exam with 17 big questions with 1-4 different questions in it. It was really stressful for me, but I got a lot of help from my module book where I had written down all the answers to the seminar questions, as well as important things I thought could be useful during the exam. Do not check the time too often, I lost a lot of time doing that, and BREATHE. I was way too stressed, however it is possible to pass the exam. I did, and I studied a lot. Keep track of the things yo have to do, attend all the lectures and the seminars, participate actively and you will be just fine!

Pathogen host interactions II

This was a continuation course of Pathogen host interactions I, which the internationals did not do since it was offered in the first year of biomedical sciences. However, it was not a problem since it was closely linked with immunology. The course handled just what it is hinting in the name, the pathogen and the host, and different mechanism that the pathogen can gain access to the host, as well as causing disease. We handled topics as antibiotic resistance, viruses, parasites, bacteria, as well as phagocytosis. I did not enjoy this course that much, since we received a massive load of articles to read. The way that the exam looked like was that you got different results and data from articles, and you had to describe the type of information you get by looking at the data. I found it rally hard, as well as reading different short strips from articles and then answer questions on them. We also had guest lectures, which you had to write short summaries about, and send to the course responsible. 

Infection and immunity in practice

This course was completely practial. First of all, we had a two day practial, where phagocytosis and complement pathway, which you had to write a lab report for. The next week was dedicated to a group lab which you were divided into. I had the focus on transplantation, which was really interesting. We had to perform labs three-four days, where we did mixed cell cultures, HLA typing, as well as counted cells. At the end of the course, we had a presentation of our work in the lab, that was done by two students from the group. Unfortunately, I was not one of the ones presenting. The ones presenting got supervision from the teachers in communication in science (you will read more about that course below), as well as us group members. 

Physiolgy: basic concepts

Be prepared for this course, and when I say that, I mean really prepared. This course is pretty similar to the ones we have at KI, meaning that there's a lot of book knowledge questions. The course was 6 weeks and divided into three themes, it started with cardio, continued with kidney, and ended with homeostasis. After the cardio and kidney theme, you had a small midexam with 10 questions each, and the points got included in your final grade. Since the exams are multiple choice, they take away points the lower score you have, due to the "guessing", which I thought was really bad. The course was already really tough, and I do not think that punishing the students with taking away a percentage from the score was fair. I did not get a course book for this course, however i downloaded it and read some sections, and watched khan academy videos on youtube. We had many lectures in the subject, and a lot of self studying as well, which means you have time to sit for at least 10 hours a day studying, which was often needed. You really have to study for this course, and do not give up! It is hard, but you can manage, otherwise you have a 100 question exam in 3 hours to look forward to. To be honest, I think that this course was way too demanding and some parts were really badly made

Communication in Sciene for exchange students

This was a short course to teach us to hold scientific presentations as well as write different texts. I think it wa a great way of learning how to communicate and convey scientific information, and the teachers, which had a background in linguistics, were really good at giving feedback. However, this course was really bad at communicating information about the lectures and what we had to prepare for each meting, which was kind of funny. 

Biomedical Academic Scientific Training for Exchange Students

This was a super small course, with a pretty large workload. I must say that this course makes it so much more beneficial going to Leiden than staying at KI. In this course, you really get to dive down in the management of research, based on different themes such as financing and collaborations, valorisation and communication. We got to interview a PhD student and a supervisor of a research group, and then use the information to hold a scientific presentation. This course really gave an insight in how research is conducted, and how research looks like outside the lab, that there's so much to it than standing pipetting. I really appreciated the opportunity of taking the course, and it gave me a valuable insight. The teacher was starting great discussions during the meetings, which made everyone feel motivated to be active the whole time. Do plan everything so that the workload does not get too big, since this course is going to stretch through the whole semester, just like communication in science. 

Applied Electrophysiology for Exchange Students

This course was an extra course we received to make us receive all points needed for the semester. I feel that this course was rather unnecessary, but it was interesting. We got to learn about ECG, as well as see our own ECGs. In the end, we had to write a long comparative article, that compared 4 different articles. Which was really time consuming and felt very unnecessary. Sure, it was useful, but we did not really receive any feedback apart from our grade. 

Something that I do not understand

though is how we could have so many courses, and how demanding the small courses were. BAST was only 1 credit, but the workload was just as big as taking at least a 10 credit course at KI. I would say that we took at least 50 credits while in Leiden, workloadwise, however we only get 30 credits??

Language and Culture

Dutch is nothing like Swedish

It was a relief that the courses we took were not in Dutch, because then I would just sit there not knowing what to do. Fortunately for us, the lectures were in English. The lecturers we had were very good at English, so there was no problem whatsoever with understanding. I did not feel that they had any accent that was hard to understand, so the lectures went smoothly. However, it was pretty hard to activate the students to actually speak English with me. 

The Dutch people actually speak very good English. If you look at statistics, I think that they are pretty close in ranking as us Swedes. However, that does not take "open the mouth to actually speak English" in account. I found myself in the most peculiar situations in the food store when the cashier just didn't speak English with me. I would respond in English, but the cashier would just continue in Dutch. After a while, I could kind of figure out what they actually wanted from me, and afterwards I could have a laugh to myself. 

I do not know if this is due to cultural differences. It might be. I have always thought that Swedes are very introvert and a little bit boring before having a couple of drinks. In fact, it felt more like the people in the Netherlands are like that. I have never tried so much in my entire life to engage in a conversation like i did at the university. They always excused themselves with their bad English, but it wasn't bad at all! It felt like all of them were extremely scared of saying something wrong, so they'd rather continue speaking in Dutch. 

There was a course that you could take if you wanted to learn Dutch, although it cost around 80 euros. Looking back, there wouldn't have been a chance for me to take that course, which I didn't, since most of my time was used up doing something else. But if you do feel motivated to learn, by all means take the course or just use duolingo. Duolingo is an app that you can find for your phone (at least for apple products), where you can practice easy sentences. I know for a fact that it is very useful, since two of my friends used it and they are pretty good now. 

Cultural differences? What about them?

I would say that a lot of things were different from the Swedish culture, although it is quite hard to put a finger on all the things. One thing was definitely the christmas celebrations. From people coming from outside of the Netherlands, it might be seen as a celebration with racist undertones. In the beginning I thought it was very peculiar, however I started to dislike it when thinking of a girl I met in the beginning of the semester. 
In the beginning of the semester, I met a girl from Sweden with roots from Ghana. She had been in Leiden for one week and she was desperately trying to change back to doing her masters in Sweden. The reason for that was the racism that she felt she was exposed to on a daily basis. 

If you then look at the christmas celebrations together with a girl desperately trying to live through every day without being looked at different because of the colour of her skin, it starts to become very unpleasant. And thinking about that the christmas celebrations are in fact based on colonialisation and enslavement, it becomes even freakier. 

However, it is nothing I myslef has been exposed to, as a white European woman. I must say that this is happening in Sweden as well, although we are trying to look away from it. 

Something else that you can say goes hand in hand with racism, is the view of feminism. There was a lot of times where my friends and I found ourselves in situations where people attributed behaviours to a certain gender. Feminism is a hot topic in the whole world, although it is not very visible in the Netherlands. Here, people seem to differ between men and women, and that certain things to do belongs to a certain gender. I do think that this was a major cultural difference. I have never actively seen people talking about "girly" and "boyish" things to do, without anyone objecting against it.

I can imagine that all this sounds horrible and harsh. I will not say that it isn't, because it is. This is happening in Sweden as well, which is horrible too, so going to Leiden would not be a big difference, although the gender talk (or the lack of it) is more visible in Leiden. But I would like you to take this into account when you go to Leiden, and try to incorporate this into their education, which I did (and I hope it succeeded). 

It is a lovely place with lovely people, so it is totally worth going. But while there, it is good to make a change!

Leisure time and social activities

Buddies for life 

The greatest about the stay in Leiden in one aspect was the buddy system that some students at Leiden University had started. International students were teamed up with one or two master students from the same programme, that could work as some kind of social mentor during the stay. My classmates and I tried to meet out buddies as often as possible, and we got to know other biomedical master students as well. We got information of all the events that were going to take place at campus, or in town. The events that I enjoyed the most was the Studo at HePatho, which is a teacher/student mingle at the campus pub HePatho. In that way you got to talk to your teachers, about all from cultural differences to what kind of beers that you enjoy. It was interesting to mingle around with teachers in such a comfortable enverionment, which I miss here in Sweden. 

The university had different sections taking care of pubs, parties and dinners. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to go to the big gala that they were hosting, but I think that it would have been a great opportunity to mingle around with people more. However, we went to HePatho from time to time, with our buddies and classmates. The only negative thing there was that no cash could be used, and the only cards that they accept are the Dutch ones. 

ISN, which was the "party organisation" for international students, organised pubs at the pub Einstein on wednesdays, which required a membership that costs 5 euros. I think that it is worth joining ISN, since they organise a lot of different parties, as well as dinners with discounts for members. 

The JVT - year representatives, organised dinners and excursions when there was time. One christmas dinner was held when we were there, which was held at VIP (Very Important Pizza, haha). It was a really nice gathering with the class, but it was kind of sad that it was so late in the semester. It would have been nice to have something early, so that we could have been introduced to each other, and improved the connection in the beginning. 

Sports and acting

There were a lot of different other activites a part from going on party events that you could do. Through OWL week, a lot of my international friends got introduced to Lacrosse, as well as football practice. A good way of finding out what you can do is to go to OWL week and ask the organisers, or just go to Leiden Housing and ask for activities that people know of. 

One of my friends joined an acting group, which was fantastic. My friends and I went to the play, and it was amazing. I think that it is a great opportunity to connect to other international students, as well as Dutch students. I know that it was a lot of fun, and that it is worth trying if you feel that you have extra time!

I do feel that it was hard to connect to the Dutch students, since they would rather speak Dutch in a lot of cases. THe international students on the other hand were really talkative, and you could practically start a converstation with anyone when going to an event organised for international students. 

Going out in Leiden

There were a lot of great pubs with great food and drinks. The best student pub was definitely Pelibar, which is located on Pelikaanstraat. They served the most amazing student drinks, that I am still dreaming about in my dreams, literally. The people there were very friendly, however you should not get too friendly with some people after 2 am. 

When we were in Leiden, there was a massive holiday called Leiden Ontzet, where they had a big fair, parades and a lot of different beer tents. It was really nice and exciting seeing the whole town turning into a party for a couple of days. They had a lot of rides and attractions that you could pay for, and also a lot of food stands where you could buy hamburgers, fries, and of course stroopwaffels

Market fun

Every wednesday and saturday, you could go to the market. I found a lot of fresh vegetables, cheeses and fruit that I bought very cheap, as well as delicious olives and different sauces which you could try. Something that people enjoyed doing when going to the market was to eat the raw herring, which you had to hold in the tail, and eat in one go. It sure looked disgusting, but I regret that I never tried doing it, even if I would have puked after doing it. 

Lebkov & sons, or why not HEMA?

Your best friend will be lebkov. It is a café situated on the LUMC side of the central. There you can buy good, cheap coffee, and the best thing ever is the hot chocolate with whipped cream. After sitting studying for hours, you should really treat yourself with a warm cup of lebkov! 

You can also find HEMA in the central, which has cheap and good sandwiches. In Haag, they have a big HEMA which was perfect for studying at. I really do recommend going there!


My friends and I did not only travel around in the Netherlands, we tried to travel as much as we could outside of the Netherlands as well. We went to Paris super cheap, 20 euros there and return, as well as to Antwerp and Brussels. In Antwerp, we tried couchsurfing, which was a super good way of connecting to locals, We had the opportunity to hang out with young belgian people, as well as international people when staying there. The host was super friendly, and tried to make our stay the best one ever. In Paris and in Brussles, we lived in hotels, which was nice as well. The hotel in Brussels was huge (with a bathroom which was just as big as the actual room itself, which must have been aorund 20-25 sq metres?!!), and included breakfast. It is nice to have the luxury of travelling when time allows it, since it was very cheap. I recommend checking out when looking for bus tickets to for example London or Paris.

There are a lot of different events that you can find on Facebook, so my tip would be, keep track there. Click interested on events, so that events that are similar to those show up as well. That is a simple way of finding out things going on! 


Knowledge is power

I have always been fed with the words that knowledge is power especially by my mother, which is true. The more you learn, the better understanding you have about life and situations that you can find yourself in. I would say that the one with knowledge is the one most likely to survive natural selection, which is still a thing. 

My educational and cultural insight has become greater since my exchange in the Netherlands, which I see as a great base for future research. Almost all research is on a global level, which makes it important for the researcher to understand other cultures. It is always going to be hard to work with someone that you cannot understand or do not feel like you have any connection with. I see it as an advantage to show interest through going abroad, as well as gaining the knowledge. 

I have learned how to take care of myself in a different way. It is something to come to a new country with a different culture and try to survive without the friends that you have known and met since you were small. It is not until you go abroad until you actually know what you have at home. This might sound cheesy, but it is actually true. It is easier to appreciate what you have at home when you are not able to see it for a long period of time. 

As I mentioned before, I am certain that the exchange has put me on a higher understanding of how it actually is to conduct research on a higher level, and that I would be able to carry out my future professional role better. I know more now than I did before. Trying to go out from your little box of comfort is extremely important in able to think outside of it, as we might all be familiar with. 

I have an extremely positive attitude towards going on exchanges, and it has only been enhanced after my own exchange. I REALLY recommend going on this one to Leiden if you have the possibility. My attitude towards knowledge is increased, as well as my interest for extracurricular activities. I think that overall, my interest for academics and research has been increased. 

You will also create a great network for future collaborations, and friends for life. I have loads of friends in different countries which I could visit whenever, which further increases my contact with the rest of the world and cultures. 

You always gain experiences when going on an exchange, and that is why I definitely think that you should do it!